What I do
I help gather evidence to make the case for craft – to improve the conditions for people to practice their craft or to enjoy and appreciate it.
I keep up to speed with who is gathering and publishing evidence – creative organisations, higher education, government bodies and so on – and then design research proposals where we feel there are gaps in our understanding of the UK crafts sector.
Sometimes we commission research, for example on The Market for Craft, other times we work in partnership or send out our own surveys to gather information. It might be on craft education, wellbeing, the economy etc. And I then use the findings in advocacy work, arguing for craft opportunities to partners, government, our sector, funders and other policy makers.
Jobs in craft
Where to start? You can be a maker, working for yourself or with others, or use those skills in other industries like film, theatre, manufacturing.
You can be a supplier of services to those makers – like materials, marketing and legal services, galleries.
Or you might design, promote or sell craft objects, organising markets and fairs. Many people use their creative skills to curate shows and exhibitions, draw in audiences, create collaborations across artists. Others teach in schools or in studios, helping more people to gain making skills.
And people like me help shape and understand the sector, influencing the policy framework that is its context – how craft is counted in the economy, whether education policy supports enough creative education, if higher education helps people to use craft skills to innovate.
I’ve always worked in policy, strategy and research, mostly in the public sector. Several times I’ve worked for national organisations like the Local Government Association and the Learning and Skills Improvement Service. I’ve often had jobs in education policy, trying to influence the shape of government or local priorities for state education, seeking to ensure they’re strong and not too centrally controlled.
In some of my spare time I throw pots and sew, so I’ve always had an interest in craft. So, when I started working freelance on policy and strategy issues, it was great to work with some small arts organisations. When the Crafts Council advertised for a new post as Head of Research and Policy it was a brilliant chance to bring together my interest in craft with the transferable skills I had in policy and research. And I’d worked in the voluntary sector before so understood it well.